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Why didn't the Netherlands gain territory after World War 2? (Short Animated Documentary)

3 minutes 10 seconds

Speaker 1

00:00:00 - 00:00:25

At the end of the Second World War, Axis borders were redrawn, often as compensation for occupation. Yugoslavia got this from Italy, Poland got this from Germany, and the USSR gained all of this. 1 nation which had also pushed to gain land from Germany was the Netherlands, which asks to be given all of these lands in 1949. As you'll guess, they got very little. They didn't get nothing, they were in fact given this tiny bit of land here, most of which they soon sold back to Germany in the 1960s.

Speaker 1

00:00:26 - 00:00:49

But given how badly damaged the Netherlands was by the Second World War, Why weren't they given more land? So after Germany was defeated, many countries wanted compensation from their occupiers. The Netherlands was no different and their demands were simple. Give us cash, lots of it. Unfortunately for them, the Great Powers had agreed at the Yalta Conference that there would be no financial reparations, mostly because of what had happened last time that Germany was forced to pay such reparations.

Speaker 1

00:00:49 - 00:01:14

And for the Dutch, this meant that the only way that they could get something out of Germany was by annexing land. The proposals were simple, take as much as we can and kick out all of the Germans who live there. Internally, the Dutch government had hoped to be given all of this, which included Cologne as well as important historical cities like Aachen and Münster. There were a few in the government that even pushed for the annexation of lands around Dortmund and Hamburg, but this was seen as unreasonable. So what happened when they put these ideas to the Allied powers?

Speaker 1

00:01:14 - 00:01:27

They were laughed out of the room by all except France. This was because France was also pushing for a somewhat dismembered Germany. As such, plan B. The Dutch reduced their claims to this. The answer was also no and they came back with the third offer of only taking this.

Speaker 1

00:01:27 - 00:01:48

It won't shock you to know that the Allies rejected this as well. And by Allies, I mean mostly the British. You see, these lands were in the British zone of occupation and given that East Germany had been divided amongst the Eastern Bloc it had many refugees. These refugees needed food and housing which was difficult to build. The Dutch plan to annex these lands and kick out all of the Germans living there would have meant millions more refugees and less places to house them.

Speaker 1

00:01:48 - 00:02:18

Yet for the Dutch, the removal of the Germans from the Netherlands was seen as vital to national security, because it meant that Germany would have less grounds to retake these lands in the future. The Dutch were pretty angry about this, since it looked like they were going to get nothing which would make the government look pretty weak. However, the Allies did opt to give some bits of land on the border, here to the Dutch, as a form of placation. It was occupied in mid-1949 and just short of a decade later the West German government came knocking. Many in the Dutch government wanted to keep the lands out of principle, but a good working relationship with the new democratic Germany were seen as valuable.

Speaker 1

00:02:18 - 00:02:39

And also, perhaps the Netherlands could use the land to trade for some of the cash that they had wanted previously. In the end, it was agreed that Germany would pay roughly $80 million for the return of the lands. Well, most of it. The Netherlands kept a tiny bit of land for itself whilst the rest was transferred back to West Germany in 1963. Meaning, after World War II, the Dutch did get some territorial concessions from Germany, just not very much.

Speaker 1

00:02:45 - 00:02:39

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